It’s only relatively recently that the major golf tours started operating wraparound seasons. Traditionally, the professional golfing season was more aligned with the calendar year and for many, that’s still the way it feels. Certainly the first few tournaments of the European Tour season feel a little like warm ups before the action really gets going in the New Year.
It all begins this week with the BMW SA Open. The event is always popular with South African golfers but recent years have seen big names from around the world compete including Rory McIlroy who lost in a playoff to Graeme Storm 12 months ago. Storm is back to defend his title this week but McIlroy is still working on his fitness ahead of his first appearance in Abu Dhabi.
The BMW SA Open returns to Glendower Golf Club for the fifth year in succession. It’s a traditional looking course with tree-lined fairways and some punishing hazards. Set at altitude, the course plays more like 7,000 yards compared to the 7,594 you’ll find on the card but that effective yardage will change with conditions so you can’t put a price on a good caddie at Glendower. The course has been set up with narrow fairways and juicy rough to keep this standard of player on their toes before and there are suggestions it will be very much on the tough side for the 2018 renewal.
Smith Can Kick Off a Big Year in the Best Way Possible
British golf fans have seen many promising players appear to grab their opportunity on the European Tour before failing to really kick on. The likes of Oliver Fisher, Callum Shinkwin and Tom Lewis all have big years ahead of them to prove they truly belong among the game’s elite but they may all find themselves left behind by fellow Englishman, Jordan Smith.
Smith’s win at the European Open in his maiden European Tour season showed he undoubtedly has the talent to succeed at this level. He’s also climbed well inside the world’s top 100 and has his sights set on that magic top 50 mark. The 25-year-old can take a big jump up the rankings with a win in the SA Open. He finished third at Glendower on debut last year and with much more experience to call upon, he can improve further still to win at 28/1 with Betfred.
Porteous the Value Home Option
South Africans have a very good record at this tournament and it is no surprise that the top of the betting is dominated by classy home players. Braden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and Dylan Frittelli each have the class to win this week but the most interesting South African player looks to be Haydn Porteous at 50/1 with Bet365.
The big hitting 23-year-old claimed his first European Tour win at the Joburg Open and is ready for another big performance near his place of birth. The rough will catch him out on occasion but Porteous can power his way out of it and over most hazards. As long as his putter behaves, Porteous can return handsomely from an each way bet.